Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today called on the Secretary of State for International Trade to guarantee that trade negotiations with Canada will not open up the UK market to hormone-treated beef.
Mr Carmichael wrote to Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP today in response to remarks made by the Canadian trade minister Mary Ng, in which she suggested that access for controversial hormone-treated beef would be a priority for Canadian negotiators, and the lack of response to this issue in a letter on negotiations, sent to MPs by the UK Trade Secretary.
Recent trade agreements made with New Zealand and Australia have been roundly condemned by farming and crofting organisations as undermining the viability of UK agriculture, with the government’s own analysis finding that agriculture would see a net financial loss as a result of the New Zealand deal.
Mr Carmichael said:
“Canadian trade officials have made it clear that they see open access for hormone-treated beef as the price for a new trade deal with the UK. We cannot blame them for trying – but we need our own government to close the door on such discussions right away.
“The government needs to learn from the mistakes made with the Australian and New Zealand agreements, which farmers and the farming unions have almost unanimously condemned. There is a real danger that a perception sets in amongst our trading partners that the UK is a pushover where farming issues are concerned.
“Conservative ministers have claimed time and again that they would not undermine food standards or farmers in trade negotiations. All we are looking for today is a guarantee from the Trade Secretary that hormone-treated beef will not be flowing into UK markets as a result of negotiations with Canada. If the government intends to live up to its rhetoric then that should not be a hard commitment to make.”